by Kaylee Hultgren | March 01, 2008

Tom Donovan“Our cultural adviser can perform blessings and lead seminars on Hawaiian culture.”

Tom Donovan is general manager of the 463-room Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, in Maui, Hawaii, which finished a massive $160 million renovation in January. Donovan joined the hotel just as the renovation began and has overseen the property’s dramatic transformation. Highlights include the new 17,500-square-foot Waihua Ritz-Carlton Spa, opening in mid-May; two championship golf courses, and 150,000 square feet of remodeled meeting space.

How did you end up in this industry? I started cooking in a restaurant in college. After a year, I was running the kitchen while going to school full time. I enjoyed the service aspect of the restaurant, but I knew my strength would be interacting with guests. So I got a position at a hotel in Boston working the front desk and moved on from there.

How would you describe your management style? I like to participate along with my staff. I want them to be able to approach me with any question and to be truly engaged in their work. They can only do that when they know there is trust in the workplace -- and that means candid communication.

What’s in store for meetings at the resort? We offer special cultural programs tailored to groups, led by our cultural adviser, Clifford Naele. He can perform opening blessings and lead educational seminars on Hawaiian culture. Also, we’re thrilled about the new Kapalua Adventure Center, which hosts large group activities in the mountains above the resort, including using our eight zip lines, 100 miles of hiking and biking trails, and rock-climbing walls.